Electorate analysis: Thuringowa includes the western outskirts of Townsville, from Thuringowa itself south through the Ross River bank suburbs of Condon, Rasmussen and Kelso, along with rural territory west to Alice River and Black River. It has existed since 1986, when the electorate of Townsville was reduced to the central regions of the city. A naturally Labor-leaning seat, Thuringowa was one of the 11 seats won in 1998 by One Nation, whose candidate Ken Turner polled 34.9 per cent against Labor incumbent Ken McElligott’s 35.1 per cent to win by 6.6 per cent after preferences. McElligott had been member for Townsville from 1983 to 1986 and for Thuringowa thereafter, and had gone back on his decision to retire after his nominated successor, Karen Ehrmann, was forced to withdraw after being charged (and later imprisoned) with electoral fraud, an episode which culminated in the Shepherdson inquiry in late 2000 and early 2001.
Ken Turner quit One Nation in February 1999 and went into the 2001 election as an independent, doing well to score 25.8 per cent of the vote but nonetheless losing to Labor’s Anita Phillips by 3.6 per cent after preferences. Phillips stood aside at the 2004 election to make an unsuccessful bid for Herbert at the federal election the following October. Her successor was Craig Wallace, a former executive officer to Townsville mayor Tony Mooney who had himself come to the attention of the Shepherdson inquiry. This did not seem to bother the voters, who added 3.8 per cent to Labor’s primary vote. A member of the Labor Forum/AWU faction, Wallace was promoted to parliamentary secretary after the 2006 election and to cabinet just two months later as Natural Resources and Water Minister, moving to the main roads portfolio after the 2009 election and further gaining fisheries and marine infrastructure in the February 2011 reshuffle.
The LNP’s candidate is Sam Cox, who is variously identified as a former real estate agent, small business owner and operator of Brookehaven Holiday Units on Magnetic Island. The LNP initially endorsed Max Tomlinson, but he withdrew in late 2010 citing health problems. Cox won the February preselection replay against former publican Wayne MacDonald and former Palm Island Mayor Delena Oui-Foster, who contested Townsville as an independent in 2009.
Heavy storm damage in the final week of the campaign gave Anna Bligh an opportunity to play to her strengths in Townsville, nicely coinciding with her “blitz” of visiting 50 electorates in five days. This reprised a tactic which appeared to work remarkably well for her at the last election.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.